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23 June 2008

popcorn

popcorn

My conception of popcorn may have changed over the years, but I have always loved it.

Does anyone else remember Jiffy Pop popcorn? That stuff fascinated me when I was a kid. The kernels came bunched in a tinfoil pan, flimsy and destined to be trashed. I suppose it was intended for camping — popping corn over a campfire was probably far more romantic than the electric stove. But on our electric stove at home, I’d watch as the outline of popcorn bulged out of the thin lid. Soon, popcorn. I’m sure that the convenience food was suffused with chemicals and lousy additives I would never eat now. It seems like the kind of product that has gluten in it, somehow. (however, turns out Jiffy Pop is gluten-free, so you can still experience it.) But when I was a kid, I loved the mystery, the sense of potentiality, of popcorn beginning to emerge.

Mostly, though, we ate popcorn that cascaded from our hot air popcorn maker. Intended for people who wanted to make popcorn healthy (none of that nasty butter or oil in the age of margarine), the hot air popper took a few moments to whirl to life. The air coming from it always smelled like warm plastic, a draft you didn’t want to stand in. If you could stand the heat and smell, and peer inside, you’d see popcorn kernels twirling frantically in the metal tunnel, like a centrifuge of food. After what seemed a lifetime, white kernels came flying from the yellow plastic shield. A big bowl of popcorn waited. On top of the popcorn maker sat a shallow divot, also of yellow plastic. If you put a pat of butter in it before turning on the maker, you had a pool of butter — white milk solids swirling on top — to pour onto the popcorn. Sadly, even with all that butter, and those god-awful salts that claimed to taste like butter or bacon, the popcorn tasted pretty close to the plasticky warm air from which it came.

It took me years to graduate to the basic technique: popping corn in a big pot, a skim of oil on the bottom, kernels swimming, dancing. This popcorn making does require patience, a lot of shaking the pan across the burner, a keen listening for the first poppings, and then the anticipatory moments of hearing every kernel pop at once, a small thunderstorm underneath the metal lid. So much more pleasure than the others. So satisfying. And the popcorn actually had a taste, free of chemicals and plastic.

For years, when Sharon and I went to the movies, we shared a big tub of popcorn (what exactly made that sickly yellow butter color that soaked at least half the kernels?) mixed with a giant box of Milk Duds. Think we’re crazy? So did I when she introduced me to it. But she converted me, quickly. I miss it now, and her.

These days, it’s pretty simple. Popcorn I make myself, good-quality butter, and a hint of truffle and salt. Wait, you haven’t eaten black truffle salt on popcorn? Good god. Get to it! And it’s not nearly as expensive as it seems. We’ve had one of those little jars for over a year, and it’s still not empty. You don’t want it on everything. But popcorn? You do.

Last evening, if you had been here, you would have found me on the bed, my belly nearly obscuring the television screen before me, Bringing Up Baby on the dvd (oh! Cary Grant), and a bowl of popcorn at my left hand.

It doesn’t take much to make happiness in a moment. Give me some real popcorn, and I’m there.

How about you? What is your favorite way to eat popcorn? Have any creative recipes that involve dried corn kernels that don’t turn into popcorn?

75 Comments:

At 11:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We make ours in a whirly pop (saves the shaking back and forth) with a touch of coconut oil and plain popcorn salt. YUM!

 
At 11:47 PM, Anonymous Bonnie said...

popcorn and milk duds???

I knew there was a reason I loved visiting your blog!

Sadly, the only popcorn recipes I've used are for caramel popcorn, and I still haven't found the "right" one. Hopefully someone will post a fabulous one I can try. In the meantime, all three of my little ones are sleeping so I'm going to pop a batch of corn and snuggle up for the evening with my hubby...bliss! (except for the having-to-share-the-popcorn part!)

 
At 1:17 AM, Blogger Tiara said...

I remember jiffy pop! My mom only bought it a few times during my childhood though. Being the health nut that she is we ate lots of hot air popped corn. When it broke during a move she cooked it on the stove top and I refused to touch the hot air stuff again. Even as a kid I was a foodie. LOL

When I was 11 my best friend introduced me to the best topping I had on popcorn. A touch of real butter, grind of pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Divine! I ate it that way until I turned 19 and my body decided corn was no longer edible. Movie theaters are torture! But that's okay, I still have the memories...*sighs*

Thank you for the great memories you invoke with your words.

 
At 1:18 AM, Blogger Bonnie said...

What a lovely post! Such a love letter! :) Thank you.

 
At 1:28 AM, Blogger Milk Jam said...

I've made it on the stove top for years. They microwave ones they sell in France are wayyy too expensive so I grab just plain kernels and pop them myself.

The key is to put exactly 1 layer of kernels in the bottom of the pan, not more, not less and then add enough vegetable oil juuuust to cover the kernels. Put a lid on and stick it on the stove. Hold onto the lid so it doesn't pop off and wait for the magic to begin. As soon as they start popping slide the pan over the stove so it doesn't stay motionless on the heat and burn the kernels.

You'll always end up with a few "old maids" that don't pop but by the time my fingers make it down to the salty bottom of the popcorn bowl I end up munching on those too...

My hometown's local movie theater out on the Olympic Peninsula has a HUGE range of spices and cheeses to put on your freshly popped popcorn - my favorite is brewer's yeast. Sadly not gluten free I would assume but delish with a little Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top!

 
At 2:07 AM, Blogger Elise said...

Truffle salt on popcorn, what a brilliant idea! I have a jar of truffle salt that I've been slowly going through, thanks for the idea for a new use for it.

 
At 2:48 AM, Blogger Katrina said...

When I was growing up, we didn't have a microwave or the air popper and always made popcorn on the stove. Those other ways were new and extravagant, so we were the reverse of your experience and it came across as funny that the old fashioned way of making popcorn was new to you.

Now imagine popcorn made on a wood cook stove, in the dead of winter. Some of my favorite childhood memories are having popcorn with Pa. We would eat the whole huge bowl between the two of us.

 
At 4:08 AM, Anonymous Shazam said...

I love to make my own microwave popcorn - throw some organic popcorn kernals into a brown paper sandwich bag, fold over the mouth of the bag a couple of times, and zap for a couple of minutes on high. Then I melt a little butter to pour on top, and add lots of salt. Mmmmm!!!!!!!!

 
At 5:20 AM, Blogger Addler said...

Oooo...Popcorn is truly my snack food addiction. From my brother's significant other, I learned this one:
Thinly slice 8-10 cloves of garlic, and cook them in butter and evoo on the stovetop until they turn a little golden and crisp. Take them out with a slotted spoon and add either fresh sprigs of rosemary or (my favorite) whole fresh sage leaves (about 40 or so...1/4 cup). Cook the sage in the butter for about a minute or two, until crispy. Poor the whole thing over the popcorn. Toss in the garlic flakes, too. I've been meaning to add a little fresh grated Locatelli Romano to this. :)

 
At 5:23 AM, Blogger Megan said...

For popcorn that is nice and crisp rather than soggy and chewy, clarify the butter before adding it to the popcorn.

 
At 6:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Shauna,
I've been enjoying your blog for months, but I think this is my first comment!
I consider it a big success to have converted my husband (a die-hard fan of "butter" microwave popped popcorn) over to a basic pot method. I use coconut oil (refined) to pop the corn, then use the same warm pot to melt butter and pour over the fresh popcorn. There is just nothing like it !! I like good quality butter, salted if available. If not, I use gray Celtic salt. YUMMY.
Magda

 
At 6:36 AM, Blogger Monica's cafe said...

Oh yes, popcorn. You are always talking my language but POPCORN is the tops. My dad made it alot when I was growing up. We started with the plug-in popper that you used oil in and graduated to the air-popped and it was never as satisfying. I went through a big microwave popcorn phase (ignorance is bliss and I was happy for a few moments.) Now my husband and I have a stainless steel stovetop popper with a little crank handle that stirs the kernels within the pot. It doesn't take much oil like we used to think! I have been known to top with olive oil; with butter; with seasoning salt, hot sauce, parmesan, and brewers yeast... I will try truffle salt very soon. Sometimes I put a little raw sugar in the oil and make my own version of 'kettle' corn. I once got room service popcorn! The service was a pure delight: served in a crystal bowl with crystal salt shaker, linen napkins and topped however we liked it. It was at the Coeur d'Alene Resort many years ago and so fun! I love popcorn!

 
At 6:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As kids we took the jiffy pop style popcorn on every vacation. This left a waxy film on our tongues. Now we eat our popcorn with warmed olive oil, sea salt and sometimes a dusting of brewers yeast. Ahhh!! - Tanya

 
At 7:09 AM, Anonymous CBot said...

Jalepenos mixed in, especially when chocolate is mixed in as well. The popcorn keeps the peppers from being too biting, or the chocolate from being too sweet.

 
At 7:19 AM, Blogger Cutzi said...

My parents gave us a whirly pop a few years ago for Christmas. I'm ashamed to say it but it went on the shelf for at least a year - I had no idea what a prize it was! Now we use it frequently... with some oil, a little sugar, a dash of salt and vanilla. Yum!

 
At 7:25 AM, Blogger Samantha said...

Mmm, I could go for some popcorn right now! Lately I use a little butter and some nutritional yeast, plus salt and black pepper. The yeast gives it a bit of a cheesy flavor, really good on popcorn.

If you ahven't tried it, pick up a package of Rancho Gordo's crimson popping corn. It's the best!

 
At 7:36 AM, Anonymous Rosita said...

My mother used to make it occasionally with mexican seasoning (she made it herself with chili powder and I don't know what all else) and some shredded cheddar cheese. I haven't thought about it in ages, I think I will have to ask my mother for the seasoning mix now.

 
At 7:45 AM, Anonymous EB said...

For me it's all about a bit of sugar and a bit of salt...stuck on with a drizzle of warm butter of course. That's it. Popcorn perfection.

 
At 7:53 AM, Anonymous walker t.r. said...

we used to make the old fashioned popcorn all the time when I was growing up, and I haven't made it in ages! This inspires me to make some again. One of my favorite toppings is green chile powder from New Mexico and a little butter. Yum.

Truffle salt sounds good.

Hope you are enjoying these last few weeks! They are really special.

 
At 7:56 AM, Blogger Kharina said...

A vegan friend of mine introduced me to curried popcorn and it really, really works! Just add your favourite curry powder to it and salt if there isn't any and done! It's so moreish you can't help but polish the whole bowl off yourself. :)

 
At 8:10 AM, Anonymous sarahbf said...

Love my Whirly Pop! While I generally don't go for single use kitchen items, this is one that does not sit around gathering dust. I end us using much less oil (maybe a table spoon or two for 2/3 cup of unpopped kernels) and practically every single one pops!

I have to admit that popcorn consumption in my household runs high - probably 4 times a week...

Favorite popcorn additions? Drizzle with soy sauce or Bragg's aminos and then nutritional yeast - stir to randomize the deliciousness... the best!

A close runner up: A mist of olive oil, a sprinkle of garlic powder, a dash of dill, a measure of mustard powder, some sea salt and again nutritional yeast - even my non yeast eating friends rave about it.

 
At 8:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whirly pop is amazing! Mine is beyond broken but I keep using it because I LOVE POPCORN. It is by far my favorite snack. We never watch a movie without a huge bowl of it. Lately, I've been buying the really nice different popcorns from Whole Foods and William Sonoma although it's SO expensive. But once you've tried the light, airy, small kernels of black or red corn, you can't go back to the stale-tasting regular kind. I spoiled it for myself. I got really into making spiced popcorn over the holidays. Basically you melt 4 tbs of butter with a bunch of spices (I played around with the measurements until I got it right) and pour it over a fresh batch of popcorn. Shake it around a bit and you've got something pretty awesome. I think it was a Nigella Express recipe.

 
At 9:28 AM, Blogger Allison the Meep said...

I adore making "real" popcorn on the stove! When I make it for my son, I add just a teensy bit of sugar with a good sprinkling of cinnamon. It's a really healthy snack for him, and he feels like he's getting a little bit of junk food because it's kind of sweet. My mom still prefers the bag popcorn full of grody chemicals, but I'm trying to convert her.

 
At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Adrienne said...

I have read you for a long time, but this post hit home. I make popcorn on the stove every night! My kids friends friends love to come over and have "real popcorn" as they say. I will add truffle salt to my grocery list and try it. Thanks so much!

 
At 10:10 AM, Blogger Annie said...

I second (and third) using a Whirley Pop. It's what I grew up on and, the first time I went to my husband's house, they had one, too. That's when I knew it was meant to be. Around the house now, I'm the cook and he makes the popcorn for dessert. But, I do have my own peanut butter popcorn recipe. Admittedly, it's not the healthiest, but it's still very yummy.

First, make your batch of popcorn. Then, in a small saucepan, add equal amounts sugar and honey over low heat until the liquid is clear. Next add as much peanut butter to the sauce as you can stand (and a pinch of salt). Make sure the mixture is still syrupy, then pour over popcorn and stir.

If you can wait until the next day, it actually tastes best when stale. But it never lasts that long.

 
At 11:58 AM, Blogger Samantha said...

Hey bonnie, give this caramel popcorn a try... it's a great recipe! I originally found this through Adam at the Amateur Gourmet, and the Craft in the title is Craft restaurant in NYC.

Craft's Caramel Popcorn
[Makes 8 Cups.]

1 to 2 Tbs peanut oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
2 cups sugar
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 Tbs kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a lidded pot. Add the popcorn and cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the popcorn stops popping. Transfer the popcorn to a very large oiledd bowl.

Place the sugar in a large saucepan and dampen with about 2 Tbs water (enough so the mixture looks like damp sand). Add the butter and salt and heat over high, swirling occasionally, until the sugar is melted and the caramel is amber. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the baking soda.

Pour the hot caramel over the popcorn and carefully stir with a heat-proof spatula until the caramel is evenly distributed and beginning to cool. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, then serve or store in a covered container.

 
At 12:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Popcorn is my absolute favrotie snack food. I have it pretty much every day! I can't remember the last time I had microwave popcorn (it's been a looong time) making it yourself it soo much better. I use coconut oil, which gives the popcorn a slight coconut flavor, with fresh grated parmesam cheese. YUM..I think i'll go make some right now

 
At 12:21 PM, Blogger Lori said...

Popcorn is truely a comfort food. It has been my favorite snack forever. Breifly, here are my stories:

* My grandmother sent Jiffy Pop to my uncle while he was a soldier in Viet Nam. He tried popping it with an exploding device while in his foxhole. You get picture. He lived to tell the story :)

* In college, I had Stir-Crazy. A great way to pop corn using oil. In my dorm, I popped a huge bowl, left my room to go to the ladies room. I came back and my treat disappeared. The empty bowl came back the next day, no one ever 'fessed up.

*Our family's favorite recipe is Chili Popcorn. Melt the butter, add chili powder, cumin, salt, garlic-minced, to the butter. Pour over popcorn, sprinkle generously with parmeson cheese. Heaven.

 
At 12:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Popped in a big pot on the stove topped with melted butter and sprinkled with lots of Old Bay Seasoning. Truly addictive! The Old Bay is also fantastic on buttered corn on the cob.

 
At 12:34 PM, Anonymous Laura M. said...

Oh, popcorn. My favorite.

Sometimes, it's my only dinner entree (ok, maybe a juice spritzer with it, too) with sea salt, parmesan cheese and a lot of black pepper. And only cooked in a pot ... I don't own and don't want to own a microwave.

 
At 12:48 PM, Blogger Allison said...

I'm a popcorn fanatic!

I have a 'famous' popcorn recipe that my friends and family have always been fans of.

The basic guidelines, which you'd adjust to suit your own whims, are:

Pop the corn in whatever way you prefer. (I use a big pot with oil, no frills)

Pour the popcorn into a bowl and set the pan off the stove to cool slightly. Add butter to the pan and let it melt. Add smoked paprika to and a hot sauce of your choice to taste. (We like the vinegary taste of something like Trappy's Red Bull, but that's more to suit the tastes of our son than ourselves) When combined pour it over the popcorn, mixing to coat well. Then sprinkle on whatever else you like, which in our household includes dried dill, garlic powder, etc and serve it up!

We spread a sheet on the couch (to avoid butter stains) and then settle in, the laddie in the middle, and have movie time!

Just recently we watched some footage we'd taken of ourselves watching movies as a distraction from the last weeks of waiting (which ended up being many, given that our son wasn't done cooking till he was at 41 1/2 weeks)and it's so interesting to see now, given how profoundly things have changed since then. We had such luxury of free thought and free time. We stayed up till whenever we wanted and slept any time we pleased. Read when we felt like it and left the house at the drop of a hat without thinking anything of it. I don't associate a particular value to those differences; how it was then was just right for two grown people with no dependents, but how it is now is just right too, and we love having our little person in our lives.

He's quite a helper with the popcorn too--it's his job to tell me when the first kernel pops so we can clap the lid on! ;-)

 
At 12:55 PM, Blogger Peanut said...

i have a technique question: does anyone have thoughts about heating the spices with the oil that the corn is popped in vs. pouring overtop with extra butter or oil after the corn is popped? do the spices burn if they go in with the oil? pros? cons?

 
At 12:56 PM, Anonymous Sally said...

I have to say, I love air popped popcorn. I don't like the smell or taste of many oils, and with popcorn, that's what the main flavor is (well, until you add butter).

When I start the popcorn, my cockatiels go nuts, because they know that they will be receiving a snack as well. They're so cute when they hold a popped kernel in their claws and munch away at it, happily.

If you want other recipes for dried popcorn, you're basically limited to popped corn recipes. Popcorn and regular dried corn are different crops, and popcorn never really cooks up that well, unfortunately (I've tried it :-)

However, if you get sick of eating popcorn, you can always put it out for the squirrels. They love the stuff, too. :-D

 
At 1:40 PM, Anonymous La Niña said...

When I was little, we just had popcorn popped with whatever oil my mom used. My best friend, Kara and I would then have a competition to see who could find the popped kernel that was shaped most like a Looney Tunes character. We'd find Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck fairly often.

When I was just out of college, in the decade or two before my husband was in my life and diagnosed with Celiac... I lived on popcorn with Brewers yeast and soy sauce. It was a meal in my low income years.

Now... it's Rancho Gordo crimson... just like in your photo. No seasonings, but a really good movie in the DVD player and a glass of Prosecco. Plus the sun going down over the Strait of Georgia. The best possible recipe... add love and put a lid on it until it pops.

 
At 1:44 PM, Blogger kate said...

Mmm. With parmesan and some garlic powder is how I eat mine. But you have to put the parmesan on when the popcorn is screamin' hot so that it will melt and cool into crispy little snowflakes attached to the kernels.

Okay, that will be what I will be snacking on this evening.

 
At 3:10 PM, Blogger D-Ann said...

I love putting Nutritional Yeast, Sea Salt, and Braggs on it. So yummy and you are getting your viatimins.

 
At 3:50 PM, Anonymous Tori in Portland said...

The way we eat popcorn around here is gourmet. I skim the bottom of my "popcorn pot" (really an old dutch oven my dad had for years that lost one of it's handles, leaving one perfect handle useful for doing the popcorn dance) with olive oil and add white popping corn. I melt a small amount of butter in the microwave while my corn gets busy. When it's all done popping I dump it into a big bowl and add the butter, flakes of french sea salt, freshly ground pepper and pecorino romano cheese grated over the top. I shake it around and adjust the seasoning. If it needs a little more butter I sub in a really good grassy flavored olive oil drizzled over the top.

The last of the popcorn usually gets dredged through whatever cheese and pepper is clinging to the sides of the bowl.

The cheese I've been using lately I got from Italy direct from the sheep I adopted earlier this year. Check this link: http://www.laportadeiparchi.it/help_usa.htm
for more great information about helping a small Italian village safeguard their way of life.

 
At 4:46 PM, Blogger Krafty Like A Fox said...

I'm pretty fond of the airpopper, but I like to add a tiny pinch of sugar to the bowl, along with lots of butter and salt. I imagine that a little chili powder would be pretty tasty, though...

 
At 5:58 PM, Anonymous Becky and the Beanstock said...

Had the house completely to myself tonight. Guess what I made for dinner? Fresh popped heirloom red blue corn, with ground black pepper and fresh-shaved Parmesan cheese. Plus a glass of shiraz, naturally. :) Such luxuries!

 
At 6:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I make my popcorn on the stove. Then I pour coconut oil and maple syrup in the pot and let it get all sizzley before pouring it all over the popcorn. Its petty close to carmel popcorn and if I'm in the mood for ketttle corn I just sub the maple syrup for agave nectar. Oh! and dont forget the sea salts!!

 
At 6:36 PM, Anonymous Tina B. said...

JIFFY POP RULES - we eat it once or twice a year for funsies. I love to watch it expand...it's like I'm a kid all over again. I do have to add: the pan can be used in a pinch while camping for cooking eggs the next day - yep, that was our McGuyver trick when we forgot a pan :-). Recently they changed the material - some black substance - not sure it would hold up now. All in all - all natural air popped is still the best and healthiest! My first job was at the local drive-in theater...still can't eat movie popcorn - UGH! the stuff the make it with! scoop of this chemical, scoop of this solid fat, add kernals, push button and voila.

 
At 7:39 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Ah yes the fond memories of the Jiffy Pop, but we only used that on camping trips and there wasn’t any romance when you had to share with your siblings, especially if you weren’t old enough to hold the handle over the camp fire by your self. You have a really neat blog, I am looking forward to reading more and I will definitely try the popcorn with the truffle salt. I have only used that on pork or lamb.

 
At 7:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK - the BEST popcorn is made with real oil (mix vegetable and olive oil) in a large sauce pan and then decorated with a mixture of butter and grated parmesan, asiago or mizithra cheese. Sublime!

 
At 8:01 PM, Blogger Barrie said...

I. Love. Popcorn.

As kids, we ate it in front of the TV sprinkled with Lawry Salt.

At college, we ate bowls and bowls of it with our diet coke.

Now, I do it with olive oil and salt.

But, my new favorite is to pop the corn in oil, mix it with salt and baby M&Ms. Heaven.

Barrie

 
At 10:23 PM, Blogger Megan said...

Popcorn is my FAVE snack these days. I pop it on the stove top with canola oil, then, while hot, shake in a paper bag with equal parts new mexico chile powder, smoked paprika, sea salt and sugar. Sweet and hot and DELICIOUS!

 
At 6:27 AM, Anonymous Mary said...

That sounds really good - my last experience with popcorn was one of those 100 calorie microwave packs. Blech.

I also wanted to thank you for your A Juicy Burger recipe in your book - I hadn't had a hamburger in 20 years, probably, because I've been a vegetarian for so long. Yesterday I bought some local, organic hamburger, and wow it was really, really, really delicious. Thank you, thank you for helping me feel better about eating protein from animals again!

 
At 9:26 AM, Blogger Katie said...

i have the good fortune of dating a man (boy) who works at the independent movie theater in town. not only do i get to see free movies, but i get as much delicious movie theater popcorn as my heart (and stomach) can handle. my topping of choice? nutritional yeast. truly the best popcorn topping i have ever had.

 
At 10:04 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

I have popcorn serveral times a week. Popped on the stove with coconut oil and lightly salted.

We do this when we want a special treat:

Melt 8 large marhsmallows and
1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Pour over popped corn. Yummy! We call it sticky popcorn.

 
At 10:18 AM, Blogger amy said...

we tried jiffy pop for the first time in years while camping this weekend. I don't know if we had defective packs (we tried 2) or the campfire wasn't the right temperature, but nothing ever popped.

so we cut them open & dumped the kernels in the fire. then they popped, which at least provided entertainment =]

 
At 10:42 AM, Blogger Susanne said...

in a paper bag in the microwave then drizzled with a bit of quality olive oil and a bit of fleur de sel. Simple but oh so tasty.

 
At 10:55 AM, Blogger Liz said...

My family always made popcorn on the stove, but it was only as an adult that I realized a lot of people weren't familiar with that method. Even recently, my roommate's eye grew wide when I pulled out a jar of kernels from the cabinet. "You have a popcorn popper?!" Um, no.

Anyway, my current favorite way to eat it is with browned butter and a little salt. I dump the freshly popped popcorn into a big paper bag, pour the butter on top and shake, shake, shake! I find it's the best way to distribute the butter without having soggy greasy spot.

That brown butter popcorn is also really great dipped kernel by kernel into some cinnamon sugar :)

 
At 11:58 AM, Blogger Olerica said...

I am so surprised that sugar pop corn hasn't been brought up! My mom made this for me growing up and I still can't get over how easy and good this is:

Over medium heat add enough oil to cover the bottom of a heavy pan with a lid (next time I'm using coconut oil... yum) and 1/2 cup of popcorn. Cover. Just as the kernels pop, quickly add 1/4 cup of granulated sugar (I love raw sugar for this) and 1 Tbsp of water. Cover and continue to shake until the kernels stop popping. Add salt immediately.

 
At 12:34 PM, Blogger Anna said...

I love stove popped popcorn. I was so happy to realize that it didn't have gluten in it and I could still have it!

I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease 3 weeks ago. I found your blog 2 weeks ago and inspired me to stop sulking and turn my cooking skills into super gluten free cooking skills.

Your blog even inspired me to start my own to help keep tabs on my own cooking progress.

dirtydishesforever.blogspot.com

Thank you!

 
At 1:06 PM, Blogger Amy! said...

Popcorn is our family's regular Sunday evening "thing" that goes all the way back to my husband's childhood.

Hubby pops the corn in a wok and adds butter to the oil so we still get the yummy buttery flavor without the sogginess that comes from pouring it over the popped deliciousness.

So good. I can't wait for Sundays.

 
At 1:28 PM, Blogger Julia said...

we make it with a touch of vegetable oil and then just some salt and nutritional yeast on top. my boyfriend likes it with olive oil, rosemary, and dill (fresh). that's pretty darn good too.

 
At 2:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every Sunday evening my mother made batch after batch of popcorn to fill the huge bowl she also used for mixing her whole wheat bread and gigantic recipes of granola. We would fill up our little bowls and munch away, easily devouring every bite, even to the partly popped old maids.

By the time I was 12, she taught me how to make it, not only for our family but also as the preferred snack for small group meetings, served with her summery mint-orange-lemon tea.

We dedicated a pot exclusively to popcorn-making soon thereafter: a sturdy, 3-quart pot with little vent holes around the top of the pot and the edge of the lid - good for letting out the steam that can make popcorn soggy, and with black insides - all the better for not showing the burn marks which I often inflicted on the bottom in my early days of popping.

That pot came with me when I got married right out of college and I've been using it ever since (I'm nearly 40). The handle finally fell off a few years ago and I adapted my style accordingly.

I've used all kinds of oils and popcorn over the years. These days I prefer organic yellow large kernel that I buy in 25 pound bags. Nutty, crunchy, full-bodied, though with more old maids than I'd like. The best oil I've found for popping is unrefined coconut oil with its high smoke point, excellent flavor, preservative qualities (leftover popcorn is still crunchy and fresh the next day), and health benefits.

I like popcorn best plain and simple with a generous shaking of good sea salt, but we also like smoked salt, parmesan, butter, and my girls love to top it with yellow nutritional yeast for the cheesy flavor. For a sweet treat I sometimes pop it with maple sugar and cinnamon. I love the peanut butter popcorn that Annie mentioned, but I haven't made it in eons.

I think I could eat popcorn just about any way you fix it. It is far and away my favorite snack in the whole wide world! :)

Kris from Virginia

 
At 2:36 PM, Anonymous jennifer in tx said...

Ditto the Whirly pop! I will never go back to the microwave. We like curry popcorn,
http://www.astray.com/recipes/?show=Curry%20popcorn

and melted butter drizzled all over and sprinkled with a mix of pumkpin pie spice and sugar for a sweet snack.

 
At 5:07 PM, Blogger Christine said...

Oh my goodness, we have been on such a popcorn kick lately. I use the method Elise spoke about on her site...heat the oil til a couple test kernals pop, add popcorn and a bit of salt, hold off heat for thrity seconds, put back on heat and watch it go...It comes out perfectly every single time.

Our favorite method is then to melt a tablespoon or two of melted butter in the hot pan, throw it on the popcorn with a healthy (lots!) shake of Old Bay Seasoning, which is gluten free according to McCormicks. With a good grating of fresh black pepper. Holy moly it is heavenly.

 
At 5:52 PM, Anonymous Sho said...

~Chocolate pudding covered with popcorn!

~Party mix consisting of Glutino pretzels, potato chips, and popcorn!

To Kris from Virginia,

I LOVE Old Bay! By the way, do you live in or near northern Virginia. Were you the one who told me about the Saturday morning farmer's market at the courthouse in Arlington?

What do you think of starting a "Gluten-Free Girls' Club!" It would be fun to have potluck GF get-togethers! In fact, every town should have a Gluten-Free Girls' Club!

OMG, Shauna! Look what you have done to me!

Take care,

Shoshannah

 
At 6:31 PM, Anonymous Moriah said...

I'm so glad you wrote about popcorn! I have the most distinct childhood memories of my dad making popcorn in our air popper in the pre-microwave days. He'd pull the popper to the edge of the counter, open a drawer halfway, and prop a brown paper grocery bag between the drawer and spout. After the terrible popping noises finally stopped, he'd douse the popcorn in melted butter and Morton's salt, and shake it all up in the bag.

My dad still makes popcorn this way. In spite of (or because of) that, I'm a stove-popcorn devotee. I love the taste of popcorn cooked in olive oil and sprinkled with a mixture of pimenton de la vera and sea salt. It's delicate and smoky, almost like good bacon.

If I'm in the mood for something sweet, I toss the popcorn with melted butter and cinnamon sugar.

There's a farmer who has popcorn at the greenmarket, and after reading this post, I can't wait to buy some!

 
At 7:50 PM, Blogger milhan said...

In recent years, before going gluten free, popcorn didn't agree with me...but since changing my diet, I have been able to eat it with no problem! Yippee!

Jiffy Pop was a treat as a child, and I recently introduced it to my children (11 and 15), just for nostaligia sake. In the day and age of microwave popcorn, it did not impress them much.

I like my popcorn done in a pan, with olive oil and sea salt...though I must say that maple syrup sounds very interesting....

 
At 8:26 PM, Blogger Cynna66 said...

On using Jiffy Pop with camping... tried that once and failed miserably. The kernels burnt before they had a chance to pop. It was a sad, sorry failure. It's probably because I should've cooked it over dying embers rather than full-on fire. Oops! It was a funny memory, anyhow. It's usually recalled as the alien spaceship that burnt up in the atmosphere. Good times.

I normally like popcorn best cooked on the stove-top. We melt a half cup of butter with a splash of canola oil, throw in smashed whole cloves of garlic to caramelize and infuse their flavor into the fat, and pop away. We just add salt after that and ALWAYS covet the delicious garlic crisps hiding in the forest of fluffy white. Soooo goooood!

 
At 10:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A friend of mine told me today that she grinds basic yellow popcorn in her grain mill and uses it as she would use standard cornmeal in most recipes. She heard that it is sweeter, though she hasn't done any side-by-side comparisons. She does it mainly because she likes to grind her own grains and popcorn is more readily available than dried whole corn.

Shoshannah, it must have been someone else from northern Virginia who told you about the farmer's market in Arlington. I do have a brother there, but I live in Harrisonburg, in the Shenandoah Valley, where we too have a fantastic farmer's market.

Kris from Virginia

 
At 2:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While growing up in rural South Dakota my parents let local honey producers plop big boxes of buzzing bees in the corners of our fields and as a result; each year we would get about 30 gallons of honey to hand out to our friends and neighbors. My favorite memory as a kid was having mom make us honey-butter popcorn. Simply melt honey and butter and drizzle it over popcorn. Warning: it is addictive!!!

ENJOY!!!

 
At 2:30 PM, Anonymous SC from MD said...

It was after my dad saw the Good Eats episode "Pop Culture" that the mad search began for some of the varieties Alton Brown featured. Several Google searches later, we stumbled upon Fireworks Popcorn (http://www.popcornlovers.com/). I know most people think that "popcorn is popcorn" -- I used to be one of them. Not anymore! Fortunately, I live near a store that sells some of the more popular varieties of Fireworks Popcorn. I love getting to experience the different flavors and textures of each type of corn. My favorite so far is the Baby White Rice! When trying new types of corn, I stick to a neutral cooking oil and just add some very finely ground kosher salt, because I want the natural flavor of the corn to come through. If we run out of the "gourmet" stuff, and we only have Orville Redenbacher's on hand, my husband and I pop the kernals in virgin coconut oil, which makes the popcorn beautifully aromatic and almost a little sweet.

I definitely recommend trying as many varieties of popcorn as you can find. It may give you a whole new appreciation for the wonderful, yummy snack!

 
At 3:16 PM, Blogger Tay said...

The home I grew up in lived on popcorn, three big batches a day, made in a 70's style electric popcorn maker. One batch before school, to pack into lunches, one batch after school for our snack and the last batch after dinner with the evening TV program (Little House, anyone?)

Now I make it about once a week on the stove top, cooked in coconut oil with organic white popcorn and top it with a combo of fresh organic unsalted butter and lemon flavored cod liver oil (Carlson's) and then sprinkle with garlic/herb salt. It is divine! And a great way to sneak some extra Omega-3's in!

Wonderful post, Shauna. I love reading the musings about food from a woman almost my exact age, something about seeing the world through a lens that includes Jiffy Pop really touches me.

thanks!

 
At 5:04 PM, Blogger Wanderlusting said...

I top mine with a mix of melted butter, garlic salt and some tamari soy sauce. Truly good!

 
At 6:45 PM, Blogger Liz said...

1) I rushed out to Whole Foods and bought some truffle salt and girl, you aren't wrong. Popcorn and truffle salt are fantastic!

2) I love love love the placement of the word "yes" in the new header. So awesome.

 
At 8:04 PM, Anonymous littlem said...

Oh I love popcorn. A guy at work bought in bulk from south american and used to eat it every afternoon. Of course, I'd find some reason to go over!

 
At 10:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Popcorn has been one of my favourite additions for years -

My husband makes it for me (he doesn't eat it himself, go figger) on a second hand whirly pop whose whirly was broken - it got retrofitted with the (manual) window handle from my dad's old '69 Ambassador station wagon - works like a charm!

I love my popcorn with a bit of butter and gomashio (toasted ground sesame seeds and sea salt), though more recently, I've come to appreciate nutritional yeast on it as well. My recent favourite is to sprinkle on a generous amount of smoked paprika as well as whatever else I'm craving - yum! There's a local company here in Vernon, BC who is making a fabulous, slightly sweetened popcorn; apparently, they do the butter and salt thing, but throw a handful of cane sugar on towards the end. It's really tasty, too!

 
At 7:48 PM, Blogger Lauren said...

Sigh. Popcorn deliciousness.

I first experienced the joy of an herbed popcorn while at a Halloween party that one of my college professors hosted for his students. He and his wife served it with dried oregano, olive oil, and salt, and I've been eating it that way since then... Last weekend we used truffle olive oil (from Far West Fungi in the SF Farmer's Market) in addition to the oregano + sea salt, which was dee-lish. Can't wait to try that garlicky-fried-sage combination that "addler" recommended! Yum!!!

SO glad popcorn is naturally gluten-free, though I find that I have to "rotate" corn with other grains in order to remain symptom-free....

 
At 8:24 PM, Anonymous emma said...

Inspirational popcorn!
Just flipping through all these ideas and memories, of course I had to go off and make a bowl. Success! popped in coconut oil and flavoured wtih pommegranate molasses, agave and sea salt. yes.

 
At 7:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For me the kernal quality is the most important popcorn factor. I purchase kernels from "Crown Jewel" gourmet popcorn. My two favorites being "fiery garnet" when popped has a golden color and buttery flavor (before the butter is added) and "petit princess amber" which has tiny little kernels and pops into miniature, elf size pieces of popcorn. the flavor for both of these is incredible. The difference between standard grocery store popcorn and "crown jewel's" is that "crown jewel" grows smaller crops based on variety and flavor rather than yield. It is like unto the difference between home-grown straberries and grocery cardboard ones. I will never buy standard yellow popcorn at the store again!

 
At 7:49 PM, Blogger Daniela said...

love, love, love popcorn but lately i've had an upset stomach after i ate it so i haven't had it in a while.

one of your readers left a comment about cracker jacks and i hope she'll check back to check out this link: http://www.culinarystudent.us/?p=191

it's my foolproof recipe for cracker jacks :)

 
At 9:04 AM, Blogger nimrodiel said...

we enjoy our popcorn with a topping of curry powder, salt and a tiny bit of sugar.

that, with butter on air popped popcorn is just YUM!

 

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